Many people with significant intellectual or physical disabilities cannot utilize a standard toilet, instead requiring equipment such as a hoist and height-adjustable changing table to use the bathroom in safety and comfort. In the United Kingdom, adult changing tables are gaining wide support thanks to the advocacy of disability campaigners and the Changing Places Consortium. Similar campaigns in the United States are just getting off the ground, but there is some good news in America’s airports.
A number of airports in the United States have installed adult changing stations, which keep disabled people off the bathroom floor and reduces the stress of flying with a disability. Using the information in this article, you’ll be able to locate adult changing tables around the country to better plan an accessible journey.
ATL — Hartfield-Jackson International Airport Atlanta
The world’s busiest airport has finally joined other airports by installing an adult changing table. There is only one such facility in the airport, located in the Terminal F departures area near French Meadow Cafe.
Terminal F is the international terminal, where many of the longest intercontinental flights depart from. Because the airport has a total of 7 terminals, advocates hope that more adult changing stations will be installed.
AUS — Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Construction of a 9-gate terminal expansion in 2019 brought an important new feature to Austin Airport — a companion care restroom with an adult changing table.
The 137 square foot companion care restroom features a powered height adjustable changing table for adults with disabilities and a motorized ceiling hoist/lift transfer system. The bathroom also has an accessible toilet, shower/wash feature and an adjustable height sink.
BWI — Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
Three of the 12 family restrooms at BWI airport are equipped with an adult changing station. One is located before security in Terminal A, one inside security in the connector between terminals B and C, and another in concourse D at gate D7.
The changing stations at BWI were some of the first in the country. They are fixed height, with grab bars on the adjacent walls.
LAX — Los Angeles International Airport
Disabled passengers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport can make use of two adult changing table facilities, located in Terminals 1 and 7.
“These specially-designed tables for adults allow caregivers to provide assistance in a manner that is much more comfortable and convenient for both parties,” said Barbara Yamamoto, Chief Guest Experience Officer, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). “This is just one more way that we are working to ensure that we provide an exceptional experience to all our guests, including the disabled and elderly.”
The tables have a weight capacity of 400 pounds and are power height adjustable. In Terminal 1, which serves Southwest Airlines, the changing table is located inside a private, all-gender restroom by Gate 14. In Terminal 7, serving United Airlines and United Express, you can find a changing table in the family restroom by Gate 75A.
LAX plans to provide an adult changing table in Terminal 3 later this year, and another in the new international concourse which will open in 2020.
MCO — Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport has installed adult changing tables in each of its companion care restrooms. At least one changing table equipped bathroom is available on every concourse.
The changing tables have a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. They are power height adjustable and can be lowered to within inches of the floor.
ORD — Chicago O’Hare International Airport
A new accessible bathroom by gate F3 in Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has been billed as the most accessible in the nation.
The bathroom features a motorized hoist/patient lift, an adult changing table (max load of 330 pounds), two accessible showers (roll-in and transfer types), an accessible toilet with grab bars, sink, emergency pull cords and an automatic door.
Terminal 2 at ORD houses Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Delta Connection and most United Express flights.
PHX — Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport began constructing a prototype for an adult changing station after receiving a note from one family more than a decade ago. Retired architect Norbert Senftleben responded, working with the airport’s carpenters to design and build a prototype.
Today, there are 12 adult changing stations throughout the Phoenix Airport. They are of a fixed-height design, shaped like a bed, and have grab bars along the adjacent walls.
PIT — Pittsburgh International Airport
An airport employee’s autistic son inspired Pittsburgh International Airport to create a world-class sensory room inside the airport terminal. The decision was made to include an accessible bathroom with an adult changing table in the space, which is located near Gate A9 and named “Presley’s Place,” after the boy who kickstarted the project.
The adult changing table is height-adjustable, as is the bathroom sink. For more information on the sensory room at PIT airport, click here.
SEA — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
During a recent renovation of the family restroom in the North Satellite Terminal, an adult changing table was installed. The facility is located near gate N20, and features a height-adjustable table.
The airport plans to install one in its new International Arrivals Facility, slated to open in 2020. The adult changing tables are one part of a larger accessibility initiative, which includes new features and services for people with auditory, vision and hidden disabilities.
Encourage Your Airport to Install an Adult Changing Table
Airports in the United States are expanding and the number of people taking to the skies increases every year. Fully accessible bathrooms with adult changing tables and hoists are a relatively small investment that will guarantee that every passenger can relieve himself or herself. Access to a toilet is a human right, and adult changing tables should be available in every airport terminal in the world, but especially in the United States.
If you’d like to see an adult changing station in your airport, send the request to the airport’s ADA Coordinator. They are responsible for ensuring that the airport is accessible and welcoming to all, and letters of support from members of the community can go a long way.
Does your airport have an adult changing table or station? If so, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the details. We hope to update this article regularly, making sure that all airports in the United States with adult changing facilities are listed.